The Scrum Master accountability is different from the Product Owner and Developer accountability. Not just because operationally they do different things, but the Scrum Master is expected to act on a different level. Facilitating Scrum Events and other sessions is often something that a Scrum Master gets asked to do. Because that is how people perceive facilitation. But facilitation starts elsewhere.
Scrum Masters should facilitate change.
What does that mean? What kind of change? And how does a Scrum Master act and what does she do to enable change to happen?
Why Change? Because in complex environments we use the empirical process control that Scrum embodies through Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation, change to the product and the process is inevitable because customer needs and the world around us is also constantly changing. A lot of organizational systems do not like change. It likes predictable processes and structures that are efficient (not necessarily good for responding to change...).
That is why the Scrum Master is so important to constantly keep an eye on how the empirical process is functioning and where improvements can be made.
That also means Scrum Masters act on at least the strategic levels of the organization. Looking at the organization from a strategic point of view makes it easier to see changes that can be translated to the operational level. And then, Scrum Masters can also act on operational levels such as the facilitation of a Sprint Retrospective to make those necessary changes transparent and Scrum Team and organizations can change.
Increase your impact
Sprint Retrospectives, among other Scrum Events can have a great impact on change within teams or organizations. As a Scrum Master, you can increase your impact even by teaching the Scrum Team to self-organize these events, so they always enable change and are not dependent on the Scrum Master. This gives way for the Scrum Master to act more on tactical and strategic levels of the organization, increasing the impact even more and answering the call of the Scrum to not just help teams implement Scrum, but help the organization increase their benefits being able to respond to change constantly.
Scrum Master accountable for removing impediments
As a Scrum Master I always facilitated the Sprint Retrospectives. Because that was how I was always asked to act and even how I read it in the Scrum Guide. But after reading about the Sprint Retrospective again I discovered that nowhere it tells you how to facilitate the Sprint Retrospective. Not even that the Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating that session. However, from the point of view that the Scrum Master is accountable for adhering to the empirical process, it can be a useful event to make things transparent.
Just don't assume it's always the Scrum Master facilitating the session(s). It may lead to greater change if you enable others to do so.
In April of 2022, I recorded a podcast with Wim van Baaren on this topic. Listen to it to hear more examples on how to facilitate change as a Scrum Master. Wim also wrote a blog post on this topic.
- Scrum Facilitators is partners with Scrum.org and we’re accredited to teach all the Scrum.org courses. Check out our Scrum.org courses here.
- Scrum Facilitators podcast on demand! Now you can listen to us at your own pace, in your own time.
- Check out our free products that can help you improve your Scrum.
- Join our Scrum Facilitators Community and interact with 100+ Scrum Professionals from all over the world
- We have occasionally organised interactive meetups. Sign up and we’ll see you there ;)